I think one of the greatest misconceptions I have about Jesus is remembering he was fully human. I have no problem remembering that he’s fully God — the walking on water sort of solidified that for me — but I have trouble believing that during his time on Earth he felt every bit of human as I do on a regular basis.
Every bit? Every sharp shard of sadness? Every blush of embarrassment? Every rolling wave of grief — some nights so strong I tremble beneath my covers?
The rolling waves have been fiercer lately. Waves of confusion, of grief, and of deep, relentless gratitude. I wake up each morning and, for the most part, think, “I get to have another day here.”
It’s not that I’m afraid to die, because I’m not. I’m amped to see Jesus face-to-face, to feel the kind of embrace my small mind cannot currently fathom. I am excited to see Tat again. I think because of her I am more grateful for this life I have been given.
But even in the midst of this genuine gratitude, there is sorrow. Gratitude doesn’t cancel out pain. You can be grateful and still you can be sad.
I am astonished at how each day I can wake up struck by thanksgiving to be alive in a world so vibrant, and yet simultaneously devastated by the tragedy that seems to arrive to a new person each day.
On Monday as I drove to work, I was overcome by grief for all that is broken in the world. Grey clouds were my company on my hour long commute. The rain on my windshield were tears I did not have in me to cry. I mourned Tat’s death, but I mourned more than that. I mourned sexual assault and divorce and cancer. I mourned political division and car accidents and broken dreams.
I mourned Tat’s children who will never be born.
I arrived at work, walked into the newsroom, and saw bad news being broadcast on every screen in the building.
And then, I thought of Jesus. Although when Jesus walked on the Earth he didn’t experience the 24-hour news cycle, he saw deep brokenness everyday. Far more than I’ve ever seen. I don’t know how he could stand it. Every other minute another person was begging him to come — to awaken their dead daughter, or touch their blind eyes, or to stop the decade of bleeding within them. Jesus wasn’t a journalist, and yet he encountered far more stories of sadness than I will ever encounter.
So I remember him. I remember him — not just as the Son of God — but as human Jesus. As Jesus who felt compassion and anger and sadness.
As the Jesus whose friend died. He knows this sorrow. He knows this pain. He loved someone and then they died. His tears must have felt a lot like mine. Hot, burning, and streaming at the most unwelcome times.
If he was fully human, then he knows just how I feel.
The best part of this equation is that he was fully human so he knows how I feel, but he’s fully God so he knows how to comfort.
So now, when I think about Jesus, not only do I think about the God I love, but I think about the man he who understands me.
A man who felt cold rain on his shoulders when the skies opened.
A man with skin that scraped when he fell.
A man who cried when his friend died.